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B'More Green
An environmental blog for everyday living
O'Malley aide Abigail Hopper tapped to run federal offshore energy bureau

The chief of Maryland's Energy Administration, Abigail Ross Hopper, landed a new job Thursday, running the federal agency that oversees development of offshore oil and gas and wind energy.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Hopper's selection as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, effective Jan. 5.  She will become the bureau's second official chief, taking over from acting director Walter Cruickshank.

Hopper has led Maryland's energy administration since 2012 while also serving as energy advisor to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a position she's held since 2010.

She helped guide the O'Malley administration's controversial offshore wind subsidy through the General Assembly in 2013.  As the state energy agency chief, she also oversaw the administration's efforts to boost renewable energy production, reduce energy consumption and reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

Hopper joins the Obama administration at a time it is considering opening portions...

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H&S Bakery launches natural gas delivery fleet, mayor says city trash trucks are next

Executives with Baltimore-based H&S Bakery announced Wednesday their purchase of a new fleet of cleaner-running, propane-fueled delivery trucks that they said would cut their emissions in half in Baltimore.

They made the announcement in a new state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly bread distribution facility in an industrial area across the Baltimore County line from Rosedale. They and several city leaders, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, touted the fleet change — which is still in the works — as part of a broader shift toward alternative fuel transportation coming to the city.

"H&S Bakery takes the responsibility seriously to protect our environment," said J.R. Paterakis, the family-owned company's vice president of sales and marketing. "Our goal is to be a trendsetter."

Rawlings-Blake said the city is working with many local companies to think "more innovatively about reducing our carbon footprint," and the Paterakis family's jump to propane-gas vehicles was a perfect...

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Fracking ban in NY prompts calls for MD to follow suit

With New York's governor banning hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in that state, environmental groups are calling on Maryland's lawmakers to follow suit.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended six years of study in that state and sided with his top advisers in deciding the potential environmental and health risks of "fracking," as it's commonly known, were too great to allow it to go forward there.

The announcement prompted environmental groups to renew their opposition to letting fracking proceed in western Maryland, which sits atop a small slice of the gas-rich Marcellus shale formation stretching from the Carolinas to New York.

"The state of Maryland, which has been debating for years whether to allow fracking in its western counties, should follow New York’s lead and adopt a legislative moratorium preventing the practice here," Mike Tidwell, director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley recently concluded after a 3 1/2-year study that fracking could be done...

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Nutrient pollution trading in limbo in Maryland as it expands in Virginia

While the Obama administration is touting Virginia's pollution trading program as an "innovative market-based approach" to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland's trading effort remains stuck in limbo after years of study and debate.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality joined Virginia's Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Fairfax County Tuesday to endorse that state's trading program.

Federal officials called it a model for other states struggling with the high costs of cleaning up polluted waterways.

"Virginia's nutrient trading program is a strong example of how to create economic opportunity and new income for rural America, while protecting and improving local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay," said McCarthy.

Under it, the state is working to reduce phosphorus pollution fouling the bay by having private investors pay farmers to reduce soil erosion...

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'Ambitious' zero-waste plan draws fire

With Marylanders throwing away far more trash per person than the average American, the O'Malley administration released a long-range plan Monday to virtually eliminate placing waste in state landfills in the next 25 years. The plan is drawing mixed reaction, however, as environmentalists criticize the blueprint's embrace of burning debris to generate energy.

State officials say that curtailing placing waste in landfills can save communities and taxpayers money, conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce pollution, including the release of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

Marylanders have more than doubled their recycling rates in the past two decades, the plan notes, now diverting about 45 percent of what once was thrown away. However, the state's residents still discard more than half their waste, with most of that going to landfills, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

In a statement accompanying the plan's release, Gov. Martin O'Malley called it "an...

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Pipe-clogging zebra mussels a growing concern in Maryland

Invasive zebra mussels — the bane of water systems and power plants in the Great Lakes area —appear to be proliferating in the lower Susquehanna River and the upper Chesapeake Bay, just a couple years after they were first spotted there.

While not abundant enough yet to cause problems, they're increasing "exponentially," according to Matthew Ashton, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources keeping tabs on the alien invasion. Water systems, power plants, boaters, anglers and divers need to step up their vigilance, he said, to try to prevent what he called a "growing threat" that the troublesome mussels could spread to lakes, reservoirs and other rivers in Maryland.

"The numbers are going up and they're going up rather quickly," Ashton said.

An annual check recently found more than 500 zebra mussels clinging to 14 concrete blocks used to anchor navigational buoys in the lower Susquehanna and upper bay around Havre de Grace. That's more than 10 times the number found...

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